Taking a little break from the Winter Meetings, I’d like to comment on a position that we haven’t heard the Twins talk about very much: left field.
Ben Revere was one of Minnesota’s starting outfielders for most of the 2011 season. While the rookie made some show-stopping catches, he struggled at the plate for much of his rookie year. Meanwhile, Trevor Plouffe showed flashes of hitting talent, but no consistency. And his poor play and decision making in the infield have convinced Terry Ryan and the rest of the Twins’ brass that he would be more useful in the outfield.
It seems that this sets up a perfect opportunity to for an outfield platoon. When the opposing pitcher is a lefty, Plouffe should start. If it’s a righty, let Revere play.
Plouffe’s performance is the biggest reason to think a platoon would work, because he had some pretty stark splits against lefties and righties. Against right-handers last year, Plouffe was a depressing .212/.295/.370. But against lefties, he had a respectable .308/.333/.449 line. He seems to have more power against righties, hitting only one of his eight homers off a lefty last year. But he did well in the doubles department – eight of his 18 came against left-handers in about a third as many plate appearances. If Plouffe is to be a decent Major League player, we’ll go ahead and assume his hitting will improve across the board. But it’s pretty easy to see that he’ll do better if he faces more lefties.
Revere didn’t seem to have splits at all in 2011. In fact, his numbers were almost uncannily similar. In 317 plate appearances against righties, he hit .268/.309/.314. Against lefties, he was .265/.311/.298 in 164 PAs. So it’s not likely that sitting Revere against lefties would really have any effect on his hitting, unless the lack of a split turns out to be a one year fluke. But Plouffe against lefties is still a better hitter than Revere against either hand, so there would be some value offensively to this platoon.
There’s more reason to like this idea, above and beyond the opposite-handed hitting benefits. For one, both of these players can benefit the team from the bench. Plouffe had some colossal misadventures at shortstop last year, but the fact that he’s able to play that position at all makes him a useful role player. On the days where Revere starts, Plouffe will be available as a pinch hitter against lefty relievers or as a defensive replacement if the Twins need to pinch hit for Jamey Carroll. When Plouffe starts in left field, Revere would be an incredible pinch running option. If a plodding runner like Ryan Doumit gets on base late in the game, Revere can swpie a few bases for him.
It’s possible, even likely, that both Plouffe and Revere will eventually develop into bona fide every day Major League outfielders. But we saw last year that they are not quite there yet. Both will need a little time to improve their on-base skills. The platoon approach would help cover for their weaknesses while they are learning how to hit in the Majors, and it might even boost their confidence a bit. Most importantly, it would allow both players to contribute to the team in 20